We’ve all been there on our wine journey, everyone from international wine superstars down. We all started at the bottom. And the first steps into the world of wine often follow a similar path. Sauvignon Blanc ✅ Marlborough ✅ Shiraz ✅ Barossa Valley ✅ Chardonnay ✅ Adelaide Hills ✅ Cabernet Sauvignon ✅ Margaret River ✅.
For anyone that is a little bit more adventurous you might end up also enjoying Grenache ✅ McLaren Vale ✅ Pinot Noir ✅Tasmania ✅. Ticking off all the big names and grape varieties, by inching your way through the shelves of a local wine store or restaurant.
If you are keen it’s a rollercoaster ride with surprises around every corner. But then there comes a time where the first bucket list is empty, everything has been ticked off, and the inevitable question comes – Is that it? Is that what all the fuss is about? And if not, what’s next?
Well before you head off on a Contiki bus around the wine regions of the world there is plenty more to explore in your own backyard. While the big names certainly produce some of the country’s greatest wines, there is so much more to be found at every quality level. In fact, if you stick with the big guns you’ll actually miss much of what the country has to offer including the cutting edge wines. There are literally hundreds of winemakers putting their heart and soul into striking gold and uncovering the next Penfolds Grange, Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon or Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz.
This country has a huge range of climates and conditions, and grapevines flourish from Queensland’s Granite Belt all the way to Port Arthur. Sadly many high quality regions are often ignored, sometimes too small to be noticed or without some global brand to get the fame they richly deserve. And many of these regions have hidden treasures with their own unique personality that are worth seeking out. So here are Winepilot’s picks of the forgotten wine regions and winemakers that should be added to your wine bucket list. That said, we are only scratching the surface with plenty more regions and wineries out there worth tracking down.
Not only the second biggest city in South Australia, Mount Gambier is also blessed with volcanic and limestone soils plus a cool climate, which can produce some very handy wines, in a lighter, elegant style. Pretty, food-friendly wines that impress more with subtlety than sheer power. Leading local winery Ottelia creates bright and fresh styles with riesling and sauvignon blanc the standouts.
Queensland wine – absolutely. Queensland often gets a bad wrap as many assume it is far too warm. But the elevated Granite Belt, which gets the odd dusting of snow, has no such problem. Look out for alternate varieties such as the Ballandean Saperavi to see what this region is made of.
Up near Beechworth in Northern Victoria is one of the most exciting wine regions in the country – Alpine Valleys. Unsurprisingly it backs onto the Australian Alps and has only been recognised as a wine region for a little over twenty years. There are also only a handful of producers here but the early results are super-promising. It is also a region which is really pushing alternate varieties so here you will find some of the best nebbiolo or tempranillo plus a full fruit salad of other varieties including albarino, fiano, vermentino and gruner veltliner from producers such as Pipan Steel and Mayford.
Potentially the most exciting wine region in Australia right now, the Great Southern, which is a couple of hours South-East of Margaret River, is blessed with a cool climate influenced by the Great Southern Ocean and Antarctica, so is completely different from its near neighbour. It’s also made up of smaller regions each with their own style, from the spicy shiraz from Frankland River through to the delicate rieslings from Porongurup. Check out Picardy, Harewood Estate, Capel Vale and Castle Rock Estate for some of the region’s best.
Another region with a long history that often slips under the radar is the Pyrenees. It was established by a large French company, Remy Martin, over fifty years ago and has made a name for itself both with exceptional sparkling wines but also hearty, savoury reds thanks to its cooler climate. The red wines in particular can drink well for decades. Leading local producers include Taltarni Vineyards and Blue Pyrenees Estate.
The cooler parts of northern Victoria around the King Valley have a long history of winemaking stretching back to the 1800s. Recent years have seen the region specialise in Italian varieties and it is home to some of the country’s top prosecco, pinot grigio, nebbiolo and sangiovese. Brown Brothers have been a regional leader for generations and continue to make some of the area’s greatest wines.
In South-Australia’s South-East, Coonawarra hogs the limelight, thanks to its exceptional quality cabernet sauvignon. Located not far away is Wrattonbully with its slightly more inland location and soils similar to Coonawarra, helping to craft wines with both power and subtlety. The red wines from Terre à Terre and Tapanappa offer a great introduction.
Image: Harewood Estate Vineyard and the Porongurup mountain range.
Bucket List Wines from Australia’s Most Underrated Wine Regions
Have you heard of Mondeuse? No, I hadn’t either. It’s been around for a while though; the vines used for this unique blend planted over